Nearly every advocate who wants people treated fairly is a supporter of “human rights”. Of course, the fight for fairness includes those who battle on behalf of people with disabilities, which often includes helping diverse individuals have the chance to participate in all parts of society.
Many people with disabilities live in conflict settings or in developing countries, where they experience a range of barriers to education, health care and other basic services. In many countries, they are subjected to violence and discrimination. People with disabilities are also often deprived of their right to live independently, as many are confined to institutions, shackled, or cycled through the criminal justice system. So many of these human rights abuses are a result of entrenched stigma and a lack of community-based services essential to ensuring their rights.
The United Nations took the overall subject to heart December 10, 1948. They adopted a Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR); the first global shout demanding human rights for all. This milestone document proclaimed the inalienable rights that every human being is entitled to. These human rights exist regardless of race, color, religion, sex, language, opinion, origin, or another status. The UDHR is the most translated document in the world and has been translated in over 500 languages.
But what are human rights when we talk about fairness for those with disabilities?
First, keep in mind people with disabilities aren’t asking for more than others get: Typically, what they want is to participate in life; to be part of their community. We all want a place to live with a bit of independence, the ability to enter or leave public spaces safely -- and a way to support ourselves that provides some dignity as well.
The last part, a job, is something we at CHOICE call “supported employment.” Lately, we’ve heard elected leaders talk about “competitive integrated employment”. CHOICE’s immediate goal is usually finding a job for our consumer. That person may need some assistance or accommodations due to differing abilities, but they can do the core parts of the work. If the individual accepts the job, and the employer accepts their new hire, both win. For our consumers, employment comes with a salary, responsibility and self esteem.
When we find a wonderful match like that, it’s what we at CHOICE feel is one more step on the community’s path toward human rights for all. For our consumers and our supported employment specialists, each success is something to celebrate.